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Confronting the low-k challenge: if it does not improve RC, why bother?

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Drs.Wilbert G. M. van den Hoek, Chief Technical Officer and Executive Vice President of Integration and Advanced Development and CMP Business Group, Novellus Systems


Semiconductor devices have been steadily shrinking in size for over a quarter of a century. As a result, device speed is no longer determined by the transistor speed, but by the performance of the interconnect. To enable the continuation of device speed improvements, over the past five years the semiconductor industry has had to choose between two key new interconnect manufacturing technologies: copper interconnects, or low-k dielectric films. It chose to implement copper metallization first, because it was perceived to be the “easier” technology. Today, after two generations of devices with copper, we are still facing the low-k intermetal dielectric (IMD) challenge.

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